Alejandro Escovedo: Bell House 30 April 2011

Happy to be back at the Bell House since I hadn’t been there for a while. Happy to see Alejandro Escovedo again even though it was only a month ago that I last saw him. Happy to see an opening act with whom I was unfamiliar but was in love with by the end of his set. Happy to hang out with rtb and violaleeblue.

Jesse Malin and St. Marks Social are one of your basic rock bands. I forgave the hipster fedora because he’s cute, from Queens, and sang a ‘Mats song. Malin is on guitar, Todd Youth on lead guitar, Johnny Martin on bass, Ty Smith on drums, and Derek Cruz on percussion. We had gotten to the club early so that we could score one of the few seats – two vinyl sofas next to the bar. The bad thing is that we’re looking at the stage from the side so we’re hearing more monitors than mains. Also the bar is the area where people feel free to pay $35 to speak loudly to their friends. Of course, there’s a bar outside the club and they could talk there. But they wouldn’t be annoying anyone if they did that. During Escovedo’s set I shushed at least four people. I also shushed someone at Bowery Ballroom last week. I’m getting more and more impatient with people needing to have a conversation louder than the music that’s on stage.

Anyway, back to Malin. There was an older couple in front of the stage singing along with every song – I wonder if they were his parents? Whoever they were, they were adorable. Malin talked about his influences, punk roots, his clubs (he co-owns two), and his covers album along with a lot of other stuff. I was already liking him a lot and then he did The Replacements’ “Bastards of Young” and I was in love. “Instant Karma” was the last song. I really can’t do a better explanation of good old rock and roll. You can hear the influences and you can hear the present and the future in what he does.

Alejandro Escovedo wears very tight pants. Actually tight doesn’t begin to describe how tight his pants are. This time there were no female back-up singers so I guess Escovedo was bringing the sexy all on his own. Also I think the female singers brought a bit more soul to the mix. But we did get plenty of rock with his punk and alt-country roots peeking through. Escovedo plays a screaming guitar and he’s surrounded by musicians who bring it and then some. They are David Pulkingham on guitar, Bobby Daniel on bass, and Hector Muñoz on drums. By the end Malin’s band joined with Escovedo’s on stage and none of us were sitting. They performed covers the way covers should be performed – making the songs all their own. Malin especially played around with the lyrics – so much so that the line about a “Puerto Rican girl” in “Miss You” was almost swallowed up. Both bands looked like they were having the time of their lives up there.

Set List (one song I didn’t catch and there was an instrumental that I think was “Fort Worth Blue” in there somewhere)

  • This Bed is Getting Crowded
  • Anchor
  • Tender Heart
  • Chelsea Hotel ‘78
  • Always a Friend
  • Down in the Bowery (for his son Paris, who is now a musician)
  • [missed this song]
  • Pissed Off 2 A.M.
  • Five Hearts Breaking
  • Nuns Song
  • Golden Bear
  • Rosalie
  • Always a Friend
  • Real as an Animal
  • Encore

  • Sex Beat
  • Like a Hurricane (Neil Young cover)
  • Encore with Jesse Malin and his band

  • Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight (Whiskeytown cover)
  • You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory (Johnny Thunders cover)
  • Miss You (Rolling Stones cover)
  • It Makes No Difference (The Band cover)
  • By Carene Lydia Lopez